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Religious discrimination case before U.S. Supreme Court

As Indiana residents may know, discrimination in hiring practices because of religion is not allowed under the law. At times, the hiring of an individual may go against company policy concerning the wearing of head coverings, and a case related to this issue is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer is required to have a discussion with a potential employee who requires special accommodations such as religious accommodation, and the request must be honored if it does not place an undue burden on the employer. Examples of those who wear specific headwear for religious purposes include Sikhs, Jews, Muslims and others.

The case currently under scrutiny by the Supreme Court involves a Muslim woman who applied for a job with a major clothing firm and was refused employment because she wore a hijab. Although the company reportedly stated that it was unaware the woman needed a religious accommodation, an employee of the company who interviewed the woman for the position stated that the applicant was wearing a hijab at the interview. The interviewer transmitted that information to the company, which has a policy that does not allow the use of headwear as a part of their company dress code.

Some companies may have a dress code in place that includes the ban of head coverings or facial hair. However, discrimination on the basis of a strongly-held religious belief, such as the case above, is illegal and the company may be held liable.

An individual who believes he or she has been a victim of religious, gender or age discrimination in the workplace may benefit from consulting with an attorney. An attorney may assist by negotiating with the company to reach a settlement or take the case to court.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Abercrombie Religious Discrimination Case Less Than Cool For Supreme Court, Sikh Americans," Gurjot Kaur, March 2, 2015

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